Kitchen and bathroom design Q&A with Emma Merry

Kitchen and bathroom design Q&A with Emma Merry

Feb 24, 2022

Emma Merry is a renowned interior designer who has been published in Homes & Gardens, Grand Designs, and Ideal Home to name a few.  As well as running a successful design and styling business, Emma also hosts the ‘Stylish Supper Club Brunch’ event series with interior stylist, Emma Morton Turner.  Known for her clean and fresh designs with a European vibe, we were delighted to sit down with Emma to discover her advice and top tips for kitchen and bathroom interior design as well as discovering why she opted for Perrin & Rowe brassware in her recent kitchen and bathroom renovations.

Armstrong Bridge Mixer with Pull Down Rinse and Textured Handles

What, who and where inspires you? 

I started my design life in the world of luxury exhibitions.  My remit was to keep visitors intrigued, engaged and inspired.  I have always had a love of colour and texture and interior design and styling seemed like a natural progression to make my creations more permanent. I feel that inspiration is something you collect, much like stamps!

I have a colour book that I started when living in Spain 10 years ago and in it I have collected bottle tops, magazine adverts, driftwood chips, shells…anything that intrigued me went into the book with a brief explanation as to why it deserved its place.  For me Mediterranean island villages such as Mallorca and Sardinia are wonderfully authentic due to all the local craftsmanship.  It’s the infectious enthusiasm for simple design that’s so enchanting and this all forms part of my design process.

How would you describe your personal style? 

I’m a huge lover of fresh spaces with clean lines, paired with intriguing patterns that are unexpected.  European colour plays a huge part; lemon and pale blues I find utterly delicious and often use a pinch of these in detailing.

You recently completed a kitchen renovation, what drew you to the Perrin & Rowe Armstrong Mixer?

I wanted to emulate a classic vibe, but when I got into the detail of the design, I found that a sense of structure was needed to stop it falling too far into the country kitchen category.  The Perrin & Rowe Armstrong mixer {pictured above and below} has a great structure with an industrial vibe.  Opting for the knurling on the handles was the icing on the cake, suddenly this tap brought the rest of the space back into the contemporary realm. 

Do you have a design ethos? 

My motto is ‘inspiration not trends’! My style is inspired by my clients and the way they live, by the unusual items I find in their homes and the subsequent creative placement within my design.

Where is the best place to start when planning a new interior design scheme? 

I start with a texture, such as a high shine or an uber matt surface then work the tactile elements in to the design.  We then consult the colour research with our clients to delve into what shades they feel most at home with and use that as a 60% base adding in the 20% complimentary tone and a 20% wild card texture or tone.

Do you have a favourite room to design? 

Bathrooms as they form in my mind like a jigsaw puzzle - the elements move around until the placement is finalised.  I love working with tiles and all the different artisan options that are now available, and then pairing these with beautiful brassware pieces - both vintage with contemporary. I feel this gives the space a real feeling of personality and depth. 

You recently completed your own bathroom renovation; can you tell us why you opted for Perrin & Rowe brassware?

If I am honest, I built the bathroom around the brassware.  I fell in love with the traditional form of the bath-shower mixer and knew that once it was installed with the natural brass finish, it would age beautifully.  It gives the bath the perfect traditional playmate yet still has function.

Perrin & Rowe Georgian Wall-Mounted Bath-Shower Mixer with Handshower and Crosstop Handles

Are there elements that you try to incorporate into all your designs? 

Using super high-quality materials, which can elevate a design and create something really special.

What are your top tips on how to achieve a timeless look? 

Following your own natural style inclinations and avoiding gimmicks or trends ensures you end up with a space you feel comfortable in.  Along with the idea of keeping the design as simple as possible, you don’t need each element to compete with each other.  Pick your hero pieces and build around them. 

What interior design mistakes do you most commonly see? 

Clients replicating a Pinterest look completely, even down to the towels. This is not the best idea as the room sizes are usually different, the natural light may be less or more, and they may not use the space in the way the image shows.  Families have different requirements to students.  An image takes none of this into consideration.  I would suggest taking three elements from your favourite Pinterest image and emulate not replicate! 

Top tips for compact spaces? 

Plan! We start most of our bathroom and kitchen sessions by asking clients to create a list of all the items they wish to store and use in their home, the ages of the users and their special requirements.  We can then ensure we involve these elements.  For example, if there is one family bathroom and even the dog has to use the space, we need accessible access to the bathroom and a hose that will reach the full width of the space.  We would conceal storage behind mirrors and look at multi-function taps. 

What should you splurge on? 

My recommendation is the brassware.  This is the jewel in the bathroom crown and is the central point of the space. It also has a high touch point with daily use by all the family. 

Where can you make savings?

I advise clients to spend money on the items that have high touch points, like brassware, flooring and sanitaryware.  You can save on the feature tiles and wall lighting. 

What interior trends do you expect to see in kitchens in 2022? 

Sustainable design continues to grow in popularity, so I expect to see products that imitate natural materials, for example Cimstone replica marble which is made from recycled plastics. Dressers and exposed shelving are also set to be big in 2022 along with chunky detailing on shelving and worktops.

What interior trends do you expect to see in bathrooms in 2022? 

Bespoke! Clients are finally looking at the bathroom with their living-room eyes.  Bespoke vanity units to flow along the lines of mid-century sideboards.  A touch of luxe in the rise of underfloor heating and wall lights that you would have seen in a luxury hotel are all front and centre in these spaces. 


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